The Gonzaga Bulldogs finally have their chance.
However, the Bulldogs and their fans probably are thinking “not so fast,” because the Bulldogs probably thought they should have already achieved that ranking earlier this season.
Despite their absurd 27-2 record and perfect 14-0 West Coach Conference mark, Gonzaga has the stigma that they are not worthy of such a ranking because they do not play in a power conference and aren’t as visible of a program. True, the WCC is not going to intimidate most voters top-to-bottom, but Gonzaga’s non-conference schedule was definitely worth of noting.
Gonzaga’s only two loses were to then ranked No. 13 Illinois Fighting Illini in early December at home and a buzzer-beater loss against the No. 13 Butler Bulldogs in mid-January, which they would have won if not for an errant inbound pass.
Illinois and Butler both have quality wins on their schedule and are dangerous tournament teams.
Likewise, the Zags’ wins are against top caliber opponents such as Kansas State Wildcats and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. In addition they have two more wins over Big 12 opponents, West Virginia Mountaineers and Oklahoma Sooners, which gives them a 4-0 mark against the Big 12 and adds to their impressive non-conference resume.
Head Coach Mark Few is not concerned with rankings, though. He knows that he has a legitimate chance to win the NCAA National Tournament and push for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. Few also knows that the No. 1 ranking now is not as important as it is after the NCAA Champion has been crowned.
He is also aware that Kelly Olynyk is a future NBA lottery pick. He averages 17.7 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per games. His length and skill set make for matchup nightmares for Gonzaga’s opponents.
This is clear. Gonzaga has the record, a star, great coaching and a some help from former No. 1’s like Indiana and Duke.
However, the voters or the NCAA do not want Gonzaga to hold the No. 1 ranking. Can you imagine what it would mean for college basketball?
It would mean that parity has spread to even the best teams in the country. It makes the “Cinderellas” of the tournament not as intriguing and that is not something that the NCAA may be able to survive or is ready for–unless Gonzaga is not considered a “Cinderella” anymore, but rather one of the country’s best basketball programs.
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